/// Three Reasons to Watch Interest-Based Social Networks in 2013

December 29, 2012  |  All Things Digital

Leszek Glasner / Shutterstock.com Earlier this year, I wrote about the emerging trends in social and the “ Rise of Interest Based Networks .” In my blog post, I argued that social media, like traditional media before it, was a big and broad market and would support a range of offerings beyond the “big three” social networks of Facebook , LinkedIn and Twitter . I forecast that we would see a rise in more verticalized, topic specific services. Where Facebook organizes around one’s friends, or “social graph,” these new social media sites would organize around users’ interests, the “interest graph.” Interest based networks such as Pinterest , Quora , Mightybell , PandaWhale , Thumb and Fitocracy are just a few examples of companies we saw gain traction among consumers and investors in 2012. With the end of 2012 approaching, I started to assess what’s happened in the space this year and identified a few areas with the potential to reshape the social landscape. As we move into 2013, a year in which funding appears to be harder to secure, these factors will be instrumental for both start-ups and larger companies alike. First, the move to mobile has definitely affected interest-based networks. A notable shift was Pinterest’s launch on phones and tablets, but many other start-ups also made a mobile push. Fitocracy, an interest based social network oriented around fitness that was originally Web-only, launched its iPhone app earlier this year, and has seen usage on mobile surge to a huge percentage of its overall engagement and traffic. Thumb, an iPhone and Android-based social network that allows people to ask questions and get instant responses, sees extremely high user engagement through its mobile apps, to the tune of over five hours per month per monthly active user and over 1 billion total yearly responses . Users are spending lots of time engaging on social media from their mobile devices, but they are discerning and demanding. Consumers want responsive, well-designed mobile apps, and as engagement on mobile continues to grow, social services that nail their mobile experiences will reap the benefits of this momentum. Brands are looking for a piece of the action on social and mobile Second, a consistent concern over the year has been the effectiveness of advertising as a revenue driver on new social and mobile platforms. On the eve of the Facebook IPO, GM pulled back from its $10M advertising spend , and they are not the only ones who have doubted Facebook’s plan to drive revenue on mobile. More recently, after a disastrous snafu that released earnings early, Wall Street analysts dropped Google’s share price by nearly 9 percent due to concerns that its mobile ad business would not monetize as well as it did on the Web. These examples underscore a basic concern, namely, mobile and social-oriented networks are not set up to monetize as well as the Web on desktops. My own view is more optimistic. Certainly social networks will have to refine their offerings for brands

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Three Reasons to Watch Interest-Based Social Networks in 2013

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